Elon Musk appeared to mock Bill Gates on Thursday on the concept of green hydrogen by tweeting a laughing emoji.
The Whole Mars Catalog posted a screenshot of a Bill Gates-promoted tweet declaring that ‘affordable, clean hydrogen would be a significant energy breakthrough,’ accompanied by the phrase ‘Bill Gates supporting hydrogen’ and a facepalm emoji.
In response to this tweet, another user remarked, “Cheap, clean hydrogen would be a tremendous breakthrough; there are many applications for it.” If we could also bottle the tooth fairy, clone Santa Claus, and replace public transportation with unicorns, we would be in good shape.’
Musk, a longtime advocate of solar energy, responded to the post with a laughing emoji.
After observing that the majority of the world’s 70 million tons of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, Bill Gates writes on his blog that making hydrogen ‘clean’ might erase the 1.6 percent of global emissions that it is responsible for.
Electrolysis is the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using solar, wind, or nuclear energy.
Gates writes on his blog, “Four separate electrolyzer technologies are being developed, and the cost of each must decrease for electrolyzed hydrogen to be cost-competitive.”
However, this type of technology is currently not commercially viable.
Emanuele Taibi, head of Power Sector Transformation Strategies at the International Renewable Energy Agency, stated at the World Economic Forum that’renewable energy technologies [have] reached a level of maturity… that enables competitive renewable electricity generation throughout the world, [which is] a prerequisite for competitive green hydrogen energy production.
‘Electrolyzers, however, are still utilized on a very limited scale, necessitating a scale-up of three orders of magnitude over the next three decades in order to cut their price by thrice.’
According to the Department of Energy, electrolysis-produced hydrogen now costs $5 per kilogram.
The agency’s Hydrogen Shot aims to lower costs by 80% by 2031, to $1 per kilogram.
Gates notes that a secondary option is to produce green hydrogen using existing methods and fossil fuels, but to capture the CO2 produced before it is released into the atmosphere. However, he writes that it “may never be economically feasible to capture 100 percent of the carbon released using existing technologies.”
Storage is an additional substantial barrier to expanding the use of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source.
According to Earth.org, ‘up to four times more storage infrastructure must be created’ for green hydrogen by 2050 at a cost of $637 billion to deliver the same amount of energy as fossil fuels.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures, founded by Bill Gates, is supporting a variety of firms – like Electric Hydrogen, which recently announced a $198 million fundraising round – that are attempting to make clean hydrogen a reality.